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BioBus receives new navigation system

by Margeaux Corby,
A student in Danieley rolls out of bed, goes through the usual morning rituals and walks outside just in time to see the tram roll past. The paper schedule said 10:15 a.m., as does the student’s watch. But still, all that is visible is the bus’s exhaust pipe. Many students, not just those residing in Danieley, have experienced the aggravation of a tram arriving too early or too late.

“It’s hard to articulate exact time with such a small schedule,” said Christopher Waters, director of information systems and technology.

 Administration is hoping to dispel frustration in the fall with the installation of GPS navigation system. The navigation system initiative was pushed by President Leo Lambert and it has taken almost a year to work out the kinks. The new system will allow potential passengers to find the exact location of the bus and when it should arrive.

“This project was driven by student demand,” Waters said. “They don’t want to have to guess. And because we are running trams, it is hard to predict timing.”

Students in Old Trollinger waiting for the West line bus can check the Internet and access a map that will show the exact location of the bus minute by minute. 

Others waiting at off-campus bus stops can text or call the BioBus service with the bus number, which is printed on each bus stop sign. They will be given the exact length of time until the bus reaches their stop.

Students will also be able to work with the Web site to set up alarms on their phones, telling them when their bus is 10 or five minutes away. Waters warned that the texting feature of the system is still in a test mode but that the navigation is precise and efficient.

“It is very accurate,” Waters said. “It has to be since the bus stops are so close.”

Supervisor of Automotive Services Keith Dimont agrees that the navigation system will be advantageous for Elon’s campus.

“I think it will benefit students,” Dimont said. “It’ll be better when they know when the bus is coming.” 

Come next semester, the BioBuses will change little in appearance.

There will be an extra antenna and a control module easily accessed by the driver. When tram drivers first get on the bus, they have to enter which route they will be driving. 

“The routes will not change,” Dimont said. “The system will just help manage time better.”

Elon now has seven BioBuses—six buses that run strictly on biodiesel and the Danieley tram that was converted from gasoline to biodiesel last spring. Elon currently has more than 20 bus locations. The site, which should be operational in the fall, is www.elon.edu/biobus.